A 17th century German composer
, chiefly of sacred choral music.
Schutz was born in Bad Lostriz in 1585
, and lived his childhood in Weissenfels, Saxony
. If he spent most of his life composing sacred
music, he really can't be blamed
. Consider the wonders the Lord
was performing in Weissenfels during Heinrich's lifetime:
- A series of plagues between 1577 and 1610 killed more than 2500 people in Weissenfels; in 1577 alone 660 people died, almost a third of the city's population.
- In 1589, at nearby Quedlinburg, 133 witches were burned in a single day.
- For much of his adult life, the Thirty Years' War (1616-1648) raged through Saxony, another severe drain on the city's population.
- Within a brief period of time, Schutz lost both his parents, his wife, his only brother, and his two daughters.*
Although surrounded by plague
, religious hysteria
, and personal loss
, Heinrich managed to survive until 1672
, dying at the ripe old age of 87. In between, he managed to become the foremost German composer of the 17th century
. He travelled widely and held posts or performed in many different cities, including Venice
, and Copenhagen
His music is quite innovative
. For instance, he introduced the Italian monodic
style (where one voice carries the melody
) into Germany, and fused it with native German music to create an entirely new way of looking at the world, rather than a mere imitation of Italian music. His influence on later German Baroque
composers, such as Johann Sebastian Bach
, cannot be calculated, as he invented the musical world which they would inherit.
His (often dull, didactic
) texts and settings, mostly taken from the Bible
, are brought to life by the power of his music. And although at this distance
we may not be able to wholly partake
in his message
, his art gives us a glimpse of what it might be like to believe
this message; a glimpse of what the world would be like, if it were so.
* Most of these grim statistics were gathered from the liner notes of a recording of Schutz's "Musicalische Exequien", by La Chapelle Royale, Phillippe Herrewege conducting; on Harmonia mundi (HMC 901261), 1987.